We'll have all the data divided into the following columns:
- Meaning literally everyone who showed up to the event that we have a fleet list for. 45 total people, with several of them missing objectives. Thanks to Karneck for scanning them all in and judging us while doing so.
|His first table stand! Nick Griffiths for scale|
- Top 50%
- This is where you can start to see what is "more competitive" as opposed to "less competitive." Even getting into the top 50% is quite impressive.
- 22 people if I'm counting correctly
- Top 25%
- This, in my opinion, is the "sweet spot" for drawing conclusions about the competitiveness of various things the tables are tracking.
- Ideally, to draw a strong conclusion, you need both a good focus for drawing those conclusions as well as enough data from that subset to feel reasonably confident in your conclusions. Top 25% at Worlds are clearly lists/players who did well but there are enough entries for the data to "stabilize" a bit. The issue you'll find with Top 10% (coming up next) and "winner" are with so few entries populating those subsets, it's hard to make a strong case that it's representative.
- I'll point out that Top 25% of the lists is 11 people. These are good people and good players, but when data comes up I'll point out some things about the swings and percentages of these all, of course. We can draw conclusions, but this is only 2 basketball teams and a referee, is all.
- Top 10%
- The top-notch results. As I mentioned above, the data reliability here for drawing strong conclusions starts to get wobbly. It's fun to look at, though, just don't put too much mental weight on this.
- Me, Shmitty, Mike, and Dane. It's 4 guys, but I'll still wave from our elite parade float.
- Everything I said about the Top 10% but even moreso. Fun to look at, basically worthless for drawing strong conclusions beyond "shmitty is obviously a good player and this is what he used." He wrote a blog about it!
Cool, cool, 22 Rebels and 23 Imperials. And that was our last bit of parity. Of the top 22, 15 of them were Rebel, leaving 7 Imperial. That is a MASSIVE shift, and it's not our first set of swings. The top 25% (11 people) had 8 Rebels and 3 Imperials. Either something is going on with Imperial list design or Imperial players need to stop being scrubs and git gud at the game (this sentiment will only endear me to many people, right?)
Worlds had a 47-53 (all) split become a 43-57 (25%). Relatively similar as the standings increased, and nowhere near this extreme of a shift (24%!) in its jump to one side over another. Looking at it another way; of the 22 Rebel players who attended, 15 of them made top half. It can't ALL be ability, right?
We're no longer a 4 commander faction! Hooray! (Percentage breakdowns for ease of use for everyone: 2 people brought Ackbar and Dodonna, 1 each brought Sato and Garm, 3 brought Cracken, 7 Rieekan, and 6 Admiral Raddus). The low numbers on some of the commanders is what indicates the huge swings and dropoff on certain people. Dodonna and Sato didn't make Top 11 dudes, so they're zero there. Congrats to Joe, the lone Ackbar player on Day 2 who somehow got squadronless to work for him.
The Raddus drop-off is very interesting; as you move up in the standings, less successful people seem to be playing Raddus. I'm not sure if that's an indication of Raddus/what he does to the game and if people do/don't like him, or if it's a matter of a usual Raddus list lacking decent squadron coverage (which in our 2-ship world....), or if the "better" players choose other commanders. Worlds he decreased as people went up, but he was better represented in the top percentages there. Data interesting to ME more than anything.
And then there's Rieekan. 4 of the top 11 people (5 of the top 12) were using him, and usually pushing squadrons with him. Eric I know was lamenting NOT bringing his pure MSU fleet with Rieekan to GenCon, but he remains the lone Midwestern holdout running Rieekan that way (and is DARN good doing so, trust me). Rieekan players are choosing him because in a world of 2-ship alphas and Squall bombs, you need a commander who allows a retaliatory strike. There's a discussion to have about his points cost, and I know people have come up with all sorts of changes and alterations and things THEY think should happen to Rieekan, but as my friend Justin points out: As long as current Imperial lists remain a faction of hitting you with the strongest possible alpha strike they CAN, Rieekan remains a necessary commander for the game and for the Rebels.
|Haters gonna hate, Rieekan is a hero|
As for Imperials,7 Sloane, 6 Thrawn, 3 Motti, 1 Tarkin, and 4 Jerry. All the joking Rebel rhymes about it being a faction of 4 commanders just kinda hit the wall, didn't it? At least we had FOUR. Soon as you move into the top 50 percent, it's Sloane, Thrawn, and Dane. That's one guy moving Motti up the charts from the top 50% onwards. We'll see it more when we get to the squadron data, but prior to the SSD, it's Thrawn and Thrawn's in-faction enemy Sloane. I know Eric was debating bringing a version of his Adepticon list from a few years ago with Sloane, but decided against it.
The Imperial fleets/players keep dropping as we go up in percentages, effectively cutting the 7 from the top half into 3 into the top 25%. Some of this may be attributed to the lobster bucket effect of so many successful players pulling each other back down into the scrum, but wait for the reckoning.... The data is about to show that Imperial list building is in a BAD place and SOMETHING needs to happen to undo this.
So, the basic Squadrons chart. The GLARINGLY obvious and bad point to ME is that 50% of the people are taking 121+ in squad points. Heck, I'm one of them. Now, granted, I LIKE running squadrons, so I SHOULD get to play what I want, but I'm honestly not convinced that half the people playing this game love squadrons. I think a good amount of them may be taking them because squadrons are the "only way to win, bro." I'd like to say I'm glad the number of Heavy Squadron usage declined as people went higher and higher, but (Joe's Squadronless Ackbar excepted), every fleet in the top 25% had 80+ points invested in squadrons. Shmitty's was based around being a tarpit, as was Dan's, in that 81-100 range, but 80 points is still a rather significant investment. I'm not asking for squadronless to be easy mode or anything, but the fact that I have to choose either an MC30 or squadron protection seems... less than stellar. Where's my 64 points being viable, like back in the old days?
The Worlds data had 47% heavy squadron and 65% in the top 25 with it, so.... absolutely nothing has changed since March. Rogue use increased overall, but I, like Eric did in April, attribute that to Rebels getting sick of last-firsted by Pryce and using Rogue to offset that attack. Strategic use was limited to 2 people, one of whom ended up the champion. Make of that what you will, haha.
Heavy Rebel squadrons had a 30% (all) to 30% (top 25%) "shift" at Worlds, so the 14% jump here is a massive change from that. The Rebel squadron disparity at Worlds is nearly gone here, with a few outliers left. But right now, it's definitely a 0-mid-heavy game. Au revoir, Light Fighter Coverage! I shall miss you and the article I wrote about you, but a disposable squadron force seems hard to find points for these days. I'll probably just edit the stupid article again, grumble. Nothing better than redoing a job for the THIRD time.
The Rebel Rogues and Aces align basically with the overall numbers, but everything up through the Top 25% of people have at least 10% more Aces than at Worlds. Defense tokens and alpha strikes you need to live through are why I used them, and I can understand that impetus.
Imperial squadrons make me sad. I understand the need to "max out" Sloane's ability and Thrawn's ability to use ANY 3 squadron command dials, but OOF. There were several different Imperial squad build numbers, one more type of points bucket than Rebels, but if you wanted to PLACE anywhere, it was 121+ points or go home. Granted, again, that top 50% number is 7 Imperial players, but all 7 of them went heavy squadron. It's heavy Ace use, but because Maarek-Morna-Jendon in some capacity are showing up in most of the top 50% fleets, it's not able to fit 8 Aces like the Rieekan Ace balls of old would sometimes have.
What Strategic? Jendon doesn't have it, so you aren't bringing it.
Quoting Eric's Worlds article again:
To clarify, "MJ" means any 2 of Maarek, Morna, and/or Jendon; "MMJ" means "the entire terrible trio." We can see MJ itself was already present a shocking 43% of the time in all Imperial fleets and had worked its way up to 100% representation by the top 25% (literally every Imperial fleet in the top 25% had 2+ of Maarek, Morna, and/or Jendon). MMJ was not as popular overall but it still performed extremely well. To say Imperial fleets are relying heavily on these three aces is an understatement.
|Here, have a puppy picture because I am depressed|
Looking at ship choices now, Large ship chassis fall off a cliff when you go from Top 50% to top 25%, which is (IMO) largely a result of heavy squad usage. Squads kill large ships, and with so many of the fleets needing An Answer for 2-ship and it's Large-based ISD.....
Also, hey guys, MSU is saved, right! What's that, April version of Eric?
The MSU row is a little misleading in that it counts fleets if they use only small ships regardless of ship count, so even fleets that are squadron heavy but only using smaller ships (and thus have, say, 4 to 5 actual ships usually) will count as MSU when at best they're squad-MSU hybrids.
Yup, all 4 of them are that, Rieekan based small ships with a bunch of squadrons. Pure MSU didn't exist here at all. The Medium ships rows include a bunch of Quasars with a few Rebel Assault Frigates. I don't recall seeing two Assault Frigates anywhere, but could be misremembering. The dual Medium ships featured in both Sam Simon's Interdictor/Quasar 2.5 ship build and Dane's double Interdictor build. Dual Medium ships CAN work for the Empire, apparently. I remain unconvinced yet for the Rebellion (outside that one Garm list), and I say that as the guy who LIKES the Potato. 2 Large Ship builds were there, and I know 2 of the guys running them as Raddus bombs who hit a couple bad matchups. It's also hard being able to counter heavy squadron play and come out of it with a solid win if you bring two larges, which is made slightly easier if Raddus powerbombs one in to eat your carrier and all.
Continuing to steal from Eric: If you came to GenCon, you need a plan for blowing up large ships quickly and that was pretty evident - squad-heavy fleets handle it by their nature and a solid showing for Raddus as well all contribute to an environment that's slightly harsh on large ships. The double-large fleets of last year (Vader double ISD being the most notorious) are nearly nowhere to be found as of 2019. Despite doing well in the UK, double-large seems mostly absent now, likely for fear of the squad-heavy meta.
The main issue I have with looking at THIS subset of data is that 22 people isn't a great amount to base anything off of. No one used a Pelta Assault! Yup, but that's barely enough to make 2 football teams.
Yavaris is back, and I'm not sure if it was several of us being successful in dodging 2-ship (I played Sam once, day 2, and that was it) or better building (cheap Garbage truck version like shmitty and I made? Two of HIS four matches day 1 write for this blog...) or better use of it (Nav until you need to squadron?). I don't have an answer for you, other than that the pendulum swung the other way from Worlds. Intel, as shown above, was out in force, (half the top 50%) so theoretically Yavaris COULD have died, but I know that with 4 months more experience (and a lot more Rogues on my part) that anyone who tries to alpha Yavaris gets hit with a bunch of Rogue squadrons of my own after they're done.
Props again to shmitty for bringing several of these ships up to a level that I don't think anyone expected out of them, haha.
I'm going to need a stiff drink for this chart. 61% of Imperial players brought an ISD of some type. None of them came close to Day 2. That is STAGGERING. I've joked before about how every Imperial list starts with Ozzel and a naked ISD-I with you deciding what to upgrade from there, but it seems that the only way to get ahead in life is to not start with an ISD. Harrow may make that a lot easier to do, now, but Interdictor use is what's getting people noticed it seems. I made a lot of noise up top about Rebels choosing the ability to tank through whatever alpha is thrown at them, which is why I think Dane and Sam went with Interdictors, just to do the same thing. Scramblers, Brunson, the title; Tanky Tech Triangle is MEAN.
The near absence of Demo is intriguing, but as I assume everyone was expecting a squadron heavy meta.... watching Demo get shot up by squadrons sure isn't fun. Lot of Quasars, but as Imps don't have significant viable Rogues, gotta push the squads somehow, right? And yup, Imperial MSU sure is dead alright.
Deployments are less skewed than they have been, with no one over 9. I'm not sure if there's anything interesting going on with the 6 deployment dip there, or if it's just a natural result of things swinging one way or another. I know I personally don't plan for a specific number of deployments when building; I mainly focus on activation numbers and even squadron deployments more than anything. In general, more deployments, more better; with some obvious drop-off in efficacy. That's the difference between a Sloane Aces list and one with a bunch of generics. Same list, more deployments, but the defense tokens of the Aces result in better use of the points.
Posting both factions of results for looks and vision. The Imperial 2-ship presence with 2 ships and 8 squadrons focused everything around that 6 deployment curve, or the Sloane 3 ships and 10 generics for 8 deployments. As for the Rebels, it's all over the place, but the lazy answer for Rebels is "More deployments = better." Also, not getting shot keeps your ships alive, super helpful right? Glad our blog can help you all out with this great advice and all.
And so, activations! Most of the lists seem to have stabilized around 5 activations, which is enough for a large, Strategic Advisor, a few smalls, and potentially a flotilla or two as needed with some squad component if desired. It's interesting to me that 6 activations seems to fall off a cliff in efficacy while 5 beats 4 all out, weirdly.
Yup, Rebels stabilizing around that 5 activation meta alright. It definitely seems like 5 is the sweet spot for the Rebellion and what a lot of people end up gravitating towards.
Where's the rest of the chart, John? That IS the chart. Imps didn't go above 6 ships. Oof. And with 2-ship and 3 ship Sloane being most of the Imperial meta.... Just keep finding more puppy pictures!
|I like this Kylo more|
Bids were weird. With so many Imperial builds needing the alpha, it became a race to the bottom to see who could build a list with as high of a bid as possible. Heck, a quarter of the attendees had bids over 20 points. At that point, in my opinion, it becomes a matter of whoever has the bid. Super Alpha Stronk Strike (or SASS, as the kids don't abbreviate it) needs a giant bid. And that's why the rest of the fleets eventually just said "screw it" and had minimal bid.
April Eric! The data here largely backs up my anecdotal experience. We've got a lot of lower-bid fleets but they're at best fairly flat, trending a bit down, for competitiveness. Weirdly, no, minimal/no bid did much better, but some of that may have come from experience against 2-ship. There's a bit of an upswing for insane bids of 26+ points, but not much of one, and none of them made it to the top 25%. Again (you're sick of seeing this), we're seeing the impact of Imperial Pryce fleets mostly bidding for the last+first against one another.
Rebels trended towards usually either minimal bid or crazy for Swayze bid, with a few people in the middle ground of 6-15 point bids. I know 3 of the 5 people running those 20+ bids, and I can confidently state they were bidding that high to get around the Pryce activation. All 3 of them were squadronless, (waves at Jack, Jamie, and Jason), and their fleets were built to punch through a 2-ship player as fast as possible.
As for the Imperials, the strongest performance was really from minimal bid, interestingly enough. Again, tank the damn alpha and everything works out fine. Lot easier to tank through if you're using all your points. I do know Sam has that 11 point bid for his 2.5 ship specifically because "I don't have anything else I want to put in there." Again, crazy bids here, as everyone tries to outdo themselves in the First to Alpha Department (it's a crappy department, IMO).
The return of Eric continuing to explain things for me!
Before I get to the upgrades section, let's clarify a few of the terms. The charts are looking for 1+ examples of any of the following to qualify for that designation:
- Accuracy generation: things that can produce accuracy results
- i.e. H9, Home One, Sensor Team, Captain Jonus
- Defense Mitigation: things that mess with defense token spending
- i.e. XI7s, Intel Officer, HTT, Suppressor, Boarding Troopers, Sloane, Mon Karren
- Command Manipulation: stuff that messes with enemy commands
- i.e. Cham, Slicer Tools, Raid tokens
- Command Fixing: stuff that allows you to manipulate your own command dials or execute additional commands
- i.e. Leia (officer), SFO, Liaisons, Support Officer, Eng Cap, Nav Officer, Tac Expert, Wing Commander, Thrawn, Pursuant
Thank GOODNESS we still have Strategic Advisor. Ugh, that guy. I understand why Truth put up his challenge, and I'll be participating in at least some of it for a while (I already commented one of my varied fleets for it). After I use the new Rebel officers, objectives, ship titles.... I'm INTENDING to participate at least?
The sheer lack of EWS is weird to me, especially as I think most of us predicted a fighter heavy environment. I have plans for testing THAT out as well, as I really think it'll shine against a fighter heavy opponent, and you're hurt by Avenger-Boarding Troopers either with ECM or EWS, so why not play it? Again, I've convinced myself of it, but I really think that it's worth a stronger look than everyone gives it. "ECM is default" but that doesn't mean it's the ONLY one. The general decrease in ECM as we went up is something.... but many of the ships IN the top 25% were either Small and didn't want/need it or didn't have the slots for it (Interdictor for example).
Command Manipulation sure took one in the dome because "Thrawn exists." Squall still pushes the squadrons distance 2 as needed, and even if it's sliced.... I know Eric was having issues with it in his MSU fleet. Thrawn being able to create "unsliceable" commands is REALLY strong. Command FIXING is largely Thrawn, just like Worlds, but with Mike and myself rocking officer Leia in our fleets it helps that top 25% number for sure.
Rebel upgrades remain with Bail getting better as you move up the chart, as he is the "Pryce counter." As always, he's not the easiest to fit in, but I do know Joe had him in his Ackbar fleet.
Yavaris showed up! Most likely because Mike and shmitty and myself used it, along with several other people. I'm not sure if the dip from All to Top 50% is coming from people bringing it and hitting a 2-ship player they weren't prepared for, but it DEFINITELY showed up when you hit the top 25%. 4 of the 8 Rebels brought it, and we were all using it in different ways. It's a very good title still, alright.
Toryn was high because of so many squadrons and so much Rebel squadron usage. It's the same drum I keep beating, and we're certainly going to keep hearing it.
My points about EWS and ECM earlier seem to line up here. Good ECM use didn't help, but good EWS use helped improve the few people who brought it. I believe that's Joe's fleet, with the Ackbar Assault HMC80, and he actually has both.
Command Fixing went crazy, which is the complete opposite of how Worlds was, with Rebels gradually decreasing in Fixing as the ranks went up. Leia and maybe a SFO or two?
Imperials..... I'll just turn it over to April Eric.
- Captain Brunson is borderline broken to the point where she's just straight money.... She's also very good for keeping Quasars alive, so it's no coincidence we see her a lot here.
- As I mentioned before, Demolisher wasn't seen as much as you might expect. I attribute this to it being such a squad-heavy environment that Demo gets shot up FAST.
- Lots of Thrawn and/or Pursuant and/or SFO in Imperial fleets bring that Command Fixing value up very high.
I don't plan on commenting on objectives for two reasons. One, I'm missing about 5-6 fleets worth of them, so THIS data is incomplete. Two, just because 2-ship BROUGHT Close Range Intel Scan, how many times did it actually get played? Good question. The standards of all 3 colors get brought as per usual, and the Never-Runs (Nav Hazards) remain in the binder.
|I need to get this binder for my cards.... Also, look, Eric, cats!|
Alright, let's take a breath. This was the last tournament of Wave 7, so as much as I want to yell into the void, we''ve got an SSD already here and showing up for NoVA. We've got Rebellion in the Rim (hopefully?) dropping before the start of Regionals season, with several new upgrades inbound to shake things up. That being said, I return again to the wisdom of April Eric.
- Heavy squadron is again (for how many years now?) a fleet archetype that overperforms, especially at Worlds. It's consistent and squadrons have obvious advantages in a variety of matchups. That said, it's getting kind of boring.
- When it comes to squadron-heavy, we have the further issue of ace-heavy outperforming as well. There are reasons for that too, but I've already gone on the record discussing how much I dislike ace spam.
- On a side note, if we accept that squadrons are points capped to limit their power but also accept that points spent on aces is stronger than points spent on generics (usually), do we not reach the conclusion that ace spam subverts the intention of the points cap?
- The Imperial meta has become extremely inbred. We've got two main commanders with one basic fleet archetype (with variants, of course, but still) dominating the top spots right now. I could write a long article on this subject alone, but I'll try to summarize the Worlds-relevant points below:
- There are reasons for this, some of them having to do with shortcomings in how a lot of Imperial ships and squadrons are designed, but the core of it is a 7 point upgrade and a bid are allowing the most powerful activation (an ISD and 4 self-sufficient ace squadrons) in the game to last+first reliably. You can play a fleet that counters it (Sloane, Raddus to some extent, etc.) or get on board the Pryce train and try to bid deeper but that's more or less where we're at right now if you want to do well.
- In case I'm not being clear about it, Pryce probably should never have been printed the way she works right now. She can't work to give Demolisher last+first but she can work on the strongest ship in the game?
- Maarek, Morna, and Jendon are showing up frequently for a reason - Imperials generally lack the good anti-ship aces Rebels are spoiled with and their anti-ship generic squadron that can be fielded in any quantity is all of TIE Bombers (you can sprinkle in 2-3ish Firesprays in some builds). TIE Bombers rely on Gozantis, which rely on Bomber Command Center, which requires the extra points, which means why not just ignore all that and use MMJ without the support apparatus? It also provides a lot more punch for the individual squad command than trying to spam bombers and abuses Squall much more efficiently.
- To put it this way: of the 7 Imperials represented in the top 50% (15 Rebels), only 1 is not Thrawn or Sloane.
- To continue to harp on the wave 7 officers, Strategic Adviser is still everywhere and it's a brain-dead choice on a large ship for 4 measly points if you're not trying to abuse Pryce. Brunson is a terrific value for only 5 points and is very easy to use and is also seen a lot. Bail gets a pass for the most part if only because Strategic Adviser usually steals his chair.
Right now, there's a LARGE quantity of "mediocre" commanders that are either only getting played by people who love them or just aren't strong in the current meta. Garm was one Eric and I always considered BORING but never bad, but no one is playing Mothma, Vader, Screed, Ozzel, or Leia, as they all have their own issues.
Theoretically, an SSD specc'ed to kill squadrons will allow for Vader or Screed fleets to show up again. Since we're in a Squadron heavy world here, it made little sense for either of those commanders (who do nothing for squadrons) to show up. Literally NO ONE brought Vader or Screed to GenCon, which is very sad. The Dark Lord of the Sith is afraid of a 27 point Imperial Ace flying a Decimator. Great.
|And YOU don't know the power of Jendon double tapping Morna.|
So, where does this all leave us? Right now, with me praying that the SSD DOES shake things up. It's a very interesting time, as I know several people are determined to make the SSD "work" and I wish them all the best. I also know that with Tom Morello Eval and 2 Lambdas, Imperial Strategic builds are actually a THING. And you can keep them relatively cheap, allowing for a 70ish point ball to both get you points and fight a squad heavy build coming at you. Morallo will die, but he'll carve out his points worth in squadrons. With ATN and RHDs in the new campaign, you've got a chance at making generics and heavies actually worth taking, which is good?
We won't know what builds become actually popular or worth countering or blah blah blah. But I'm sure we'll be part of the data collection as always, because TRENDS, man, and THINGS TO NOTICE.
All I'll say right now is "Goodbye Wave 7. Thanks for HIE and the MC75. Don't let the door hit you on the way out."
(I've only used the red text for the header because you've already read plenty of my copy-pasted words from the Worlds article by now)
I pretty much agree with John: "wave 7, thanks for the new ships and HIEs, but you're no longer welcome here."
I've complained before that Imperials are a faction of basically 4 ships. A year later, the data isn't really bearing that out so far as Gencon goes: we saw a fair bit of variety, although you'll notice an insane number of Quasars. We're not really right now at a point where Imperials are only using the "good 4." Tokra's fleet uses a Raider (as a lifeboat) and an Arquitens (with Centicore as a squadron enabler and no turbolaser upgrade, its primary role isn't a combat ship). Dane's fleet used just 2 Interdictors. Sam Simon's fleet also used an Interdictor. Demolisher use is receding fairly rapidly. That's all for basically the same reason: 2-ship.
Right now the hot fleet is 2-ship. You'll note that none of the 3 Imperial fleets that made top 8 are actually Pryce 2-ship. The closest you get is Sam's fleet, which is 2+1 ship (Quasar, Interdictor, Gozanti). But there was a good number of 2-ship there and it did well overall - note the big uptick from Pryce use at 26% of Imperial fleets but 43% of Imperial fleets in the top 50%. It's just a lot of 2-ship got stuck in the middle of the pack and didn't climb up to the top 25%. What happened?
What happened is every fleet that did well at Gencon had a plan for 2-ship. If you don't have a plan for 2-ship, expect to get clobbered. The easiest way of dealing with 2-ship is to handle their squadrons and you'll notice the huge quantity of heavy squads and some medium-squads builds, which overall did very good. As soon as you hit the 101 points of squads and above rows, you'll notice their numbers start improving, and Shmitty took it all with medium squads leaning a bit heavy because a Biggs+Jan tarpit is a very good investment when heavy squads is everywhere. You'll also note that Rogues, a fairly solid counter to the Pryce last+first of 2-ship, were popular and competitive as well. So I'm heartened to see more variety with Imperial ship use (even if commander diversity is terrible), but the ships are all operating in service to a maxed-out squad wing. That's basically where Imperial fleets are at the end of wave 7: you can have your fleet with (mostly) any ships, so long as you've got a maxed-out squad ball. Rebel fleets aren't doing much better in that regard either, it's just the inbred meta is most obvious with Imperials.
Is the heavy squads or bust present the heavy squads or bust future? I don't know. I hope not. I'm getting extremely tired of heavy squads being the dominant archetype uninterrupted for years now. I want more variety, especially with Imperial fleets. Imperial is my preferred faction but I've been running Rebels competitively for nearly two years now because of how shallow the Imperial internal meta has become. That said, there's some hope that flak-monster SSD builds and some of the RitR upgrades will shake things up enough to restore some more diversity.